Monday, August 21, 2006

Herb Harvesting Tips for mid-August.

August is harvesting time for all herb plants.
Annuals need to be cut back as if this is the last cutting. If they give you another growth that will be a bonus, but most will die and you will want to turn those back into the soil and let them decay for good rich compost soil matter.

Perennials should be cut back to about a third of the plant, this will give the plant time to regrow and become strong again before the winter months set in.

If you cut back too late the frost will kill any new growth and your plants could easily die from the harsh cold on the tender plants.

Your basic perennials(ones that can be harvested all year)are:

Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Oregano, Lavender, and Tarragon.
Of course all of these will have different levels of tolerance, depending on where you are.

Your local farm co-op is a great place to get good solid plant information on weather tolerance.

Once you have harvested your herbs, then you must decide how you wish to keep them.
They can be dried by hanging in small bundles and left to dry at their own speed...doesn't take very long, a few weeks for most.
You will want to hang them in a cool, dry place such as an attic, a clean barn or inside a closet will work.
When I dry using this method, I cover the herbs with a fine piece of netting to keep flying bugs, dust, etc., from settling on them.

My favorite way to dry most things is by using a commercial grade dehydrater.(if you are drying small amounts, then a regular one will be just fine.)
I don't like using a microwave or the oven, and would not suggest that anyone else do so.
After your herbs are dry, store in dark colored glass jars with good fitting lids, away from heat and bright lights, inside a pantry, closet or any cupboard that is used for storage. Don't store over or close to the cook stove.

TIP: If you leave the leaves whole until you get ready to use them they will retain more of the essential oils.

Enjoy your harvesting !

Bea Kunz

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